When you have an eating disorder, the list of foods you deem “acceptable” is much, much shorter than the list of foods that you won’t eat. For whatever reason: too much sugar, too much fat, too many carbs…you refuse to let them pass your lips.
As you begin recovery, you slowly start to reintroduce certain foods into your diet. You start small – something as simple as a piece of toast or a piece of candy – and you work your way up from there.
The first “fear food” I tackled in recovery?
A sandwich. A toasted tomato sandwich, to be exact. Slices of tomato and black pepper between two toasted pieces of bread. It sounds so simple, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
As I ate that sandwich, I was absolutely terrified. It had been so long – at least a year – since I had had that many carbs in one sitting. One of my “rules” when I was anorexic was that I couldn’t eat more than 1 grain serving a day.
As I was finished off the final bite of that sandwich, I was certain that I was going to find myself 20 pounds heavier with a pregnant-looking belly by the next day.
Of course, my fears were unfounded. My appearance didn’t change, and my fears about food slowly began to alleviate as I reintroduced more foods into my diet. I moved to cake, ice cream, poutine, wine…I felt I had pretty much everything conquered. I felt confident that I ate (and drank) well enough the majority of the time, so eating something less nutritious once in a while was absolutely fine.
Even though it’s been two years since I finished therapy and I’ve considered myself recovered for a while now, there was one meal that I had not yet had. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t like it, that I didn’t need it – but I was fooling myself. I hadn’t tried it yet, because it was still a fear food for me.
What was it?
A burger and fries.
I had never ordered a burger and fries.
I had ordered veggie or chicken burgers, and I would routinely steal a fry or two from my dining partner. But a red-meat burger with my own order of fries on the side? I couldn’t do it.
In my head, “healthy” people did not order that. They knew better. They ordered a chicken sandwich, or a veggie burger. They never, EVER would get fries with a burger. It was side salad or nothing.
Of course, I know this is silly. I may not want to eat a burger and fries every day, but an occasional order was absolutely fine, and did absolutely nothing to jeopardize my health – or change my weight whatsoever.
After I had come to this realization, I realized I had to do this. To prove to the eating disorder voice that pops into my head once in a while, that I had control and knew better than to listen to it.
So on Saturday, when the waiter asked me what I wanted for lunch, I knew what I was going for.
Lamb burger (lamb is red meat and I honestly prefer it to beef, so it met my criteria) and fries. and coleslaw. Foods that still have the power to make me uneasy, all facing me on a plate.
You know what?
It was delicious. The lamb was flavourful and delicious, especially with the addition of the goat cheese. The fries were crispy and perfect with some ketchup for dipping, and the coleslaw was wonderful in its mayo-laden glory.
I ate until I was full, and enjoyed every bite.
The next day, I woke up the exact same size as I had been the day before. Of course.
Now? I feel better about my situation with my ED than ever before. I feel even more confident that I AM recovered, and that I will never find myself in it’s trance again.
Oats made with water, a splash of vanilla, cinnamon, and a sliced banana. Topped with almond butter, the maple pumpkin butter my mom bought me and Cinnamon Chex. There are no words for that pumpkin butter – if it lasts me longer than a week, I’m going to be surprised.
Salad with romaine, spinach, sliced carrots, a small sliced pear, pecans, feta, and some homemade maple balsamic vinaigrette. I can’t remember the last time I had pecans, but they may be one of my favourite nuts (TWSS).
For dinner, I pulled a recipe for an Italian shrimp dish out of The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook. It involved lots of tomato and zucchini, simmered in white wine with feta – delicious! On the side, I had some celery bread my mom left with us. It wasn’t bad, kind of like garlic bread but with celery salt. It made for a tasty, light dinner.
My mom had picked up a case of pumpkin tarts from the market on Saturday, of which she left us with two of them. I pulled one of them out with the intention of trying a bite or two.
Yea, we all know how that ended up. That tart is long gone – I just wish I had a bit of whipped cream on it! It tasted like pumpkin pie, which in my opinion always needs a squirt of whipped cream!
Between the pumpkin butter and the pumpkin tart, I am definitely feeling the fall goods right now. I give it another week or so before I break out the pumpkin and the apple flavoured baking.
<— Pumpkin pie: heated or room temp, whipped cream, ice cream or naked? Heated, whipped cream. Amazing.
<— French fries, sweet potato fries, or onion rings?